Justin Guarini

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Justin Guarini
Justin Guarini headshot.jpeg
Justin Guarini, 2015
Background information
Birth name Justin Eldrin Bell
Born (1978-10-28) October 28, 1978 (age 36)
Columbus, Georgia
Origin Doylestown, Pennsylvania, United States
Genres Jazz, soul, funk, R&B, pop
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, actor, television host
Instruments Piano, guitar, vocals
Years active 2002–present
Labels RCA Records (2002-03)
Justice Entertainment, Ltd.
Website JustinGuarini.com

Justin Guarini (born Justin Eldrin Bell; October 28, 1978) is an American singer/musician, actor, host and producer, who in 2002 was the runner-up on the first season of American Idol.

Early life

Guarini was born in Columbus, Georgia. His father, Eldrin Bell, is African American, and is a former Atlanta, Georgia, Chief of Police, and former Chairperson of Clayton County Commission (Georgia). His mother, Kathy Pepino Guarini, is Italian American, and was a journalist for WTVM TV in Columbus, and later for CNN. Guarini was primarily raised by his mother and stepfather, physicist Jerry Guarini, in Philadelphia's suburb of Doylestown, Pennsylvania.1

Career

Beginnings

Guarini's musical experience started at age four when he was accepted by the Atlanta Boy Choir. After moving to Pennsylvania in 1985, he joined the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Boys Choir. Throughout his school years Guarini sang in school choirs, and from 1996-2000 was the lead soloist in an award winning a cappella group named The Midnight Voices. The group released an independent album in 1999 with proceeds benefiting a music scholarship fund at Guarini's alma mater, Central Bucks High School East in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. He was a director/performer at the Riverside Haunted Woods in Bridgeton, Pennsylvania in 2001.

His high school and college theater credits include the lead roles in The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Little Prince, The Pirates of Penzance, The Taming of the Shrew, and Once on This Island. In addition to singing and stage performing, Guarini plays the piano, guitar, and banjo.

After studying vocal performance and theater studies at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Guarini later moved to New York City where he attended the School for Film and Television. He worked in New York nightclubs, and auditioned for New York Theater before successfully auditioning for American Idol in April 2002. Shortly after being chosen for American Idol, he was offered a role in the Broadway production of The Lion King. Guarini wrote about his decision between the two offers in his exclusive 2008 blog for the television site, Fancast, stating, "I had attended master classes… I learned Zulu and Sotho phrases, as well as the music from the show. It was a dream almost come true at the time. But, now I knew I was onto something, and I wasn’t letting go. I politely declined the offer of a role...". He was also considering a contract offer from an independent record label, but the show's rules prohibited participants from having existing record contracts.

American Idol

Idol judge Simon Cowell praised Guarini's performance in the show's first season, at one early audition telling him "Justin, you know, occasionally you're very privileged when you do a competition like this to hear somebody undiscovered who has a voice like yours", with Guarini ultimately becoming the runner-up to winner Kelly Clarkson in September 2002. Soon after, Guarini signed with American Idol's 19 Management and secured a record deal with RCA. Prior to the American Idol Tour, he was the only contestant asked to appear on The Oprah Winfrey Show, on which Oprah Winfrey told him, "Justin, you have it." After reviews during the American Idol Tour describing Guarini as a "revelation" (Los Angeles Times), and "easily the best performer" (Boston Herald), Guarini's career appeared ready to take off.

American Idol performances

Week Theme Song Sung Artist Order Result
Top 30 Semifinal Group 2 "Ribbon in the Sky" Stevie Wonder 10 Advanced
Top 10 Motown "For Once in My Life" Stevie Wonder 6 Safe
Top 8 1960s "Sunny" Bobby Hebb 7 Safe
Top 7 1970s "Someday We'll All Be Free" Donny Hathaway 4 Bottom 2
Top 6 Big Band "Route 66" Nat King Cole 2 Safe
Top 5 Burt Bacharach Love Songs "The Look of Love" Dusty Springfield 4 Safe
Top 4 1980s
1990s
"P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)"
"Get Here"
Michael Jackson
Oleta Adams
4
8
Safe
Top 3 Idol's Choice
Judges' Choice
"Let's Stay Together"
"Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me"
Al Green
Elton John
2
5
Safe
Top 2 Finale "Before Your Love"
"Get Here"
"A Moment Like This"
Justin Guarini
Oleta Adams
Justin Guarini
1
3
5
Runner-Up

Music

In concert - 2006

His self-titled album, Justin Guarini, debuted in June 2003, coinciding with the single releases of the current second season American Idol top two finalists and the movie From Justin to Kelly, in which Guarini co-starred with Kelly Clarkson. The album sold 146,000 copies and in December 2003 Guarini was dropped from RCA Records.2

Guarini co-produced his second album Stranger Things Have Happened, independently released in December 2005 through his own production company, Justice Entertainment, Ltd.. The album of reinvented jazz standards was described by Allmusic as "a successful reinvention... where his natural skills shine", The Philadelphia Inquirer said that "Guarini displays an agile, attractive voice with good phrasing, supported by a sophisticated and funky backing ensemble."

In May 2008, Guarini released an acoustic EP titled Revolve comprising three songs ("Sweet Time", "Rock Bottom", and "When She Cries") co-written and co-produced with Shaun Ingram. Versions of the songs are planned to be included on a future solo album.

Additionally, he collaborates on music projects as a featured vocalist on albums by fellow artists' solo albums, on cast albums from musicals in which he co-starred, and as the vocalist for a Jazz assemble. He wrote/co-arranged and recorded a benefit song released with H.H. Gayuna Cealo, and a song for the documentary series Project Everlasting, launched August 2006 and featured on the Today Show. The title track from his album Stranger Things Have Happened is also used in the documentary.

Discography

Albums

Studio albums

Year Album details Peak Certifications
(sales threshold)
US
1999 The Midnight Voices
  • As lead vocalist
  • Released: 1999
  • US sales: N/A
2003 Justin Guarini 20
  • US sales:146,0003
2005 Stranger Things Have Happened
  • Released: December, 2005
  • Label: Justice Entertainment, Ltd
  • US sales: N/A
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Other contributions

  • Foreign Shores by David Hughes (featured vocalist) 2009
  • The Awakening of Angel DeLuna (cast album) 2009
  • I Could Use a Drink by Drew Gasparini (featured vocalist) 2012
  • Where the Sky Ends: Music by Michael Mott by Michael Mott (featured vocalist) 20144
  • Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Original Broadway Cast) 2011
  • Paint Your Wagon (cast album) 2014

EPs

  • Revolve (Acoustic) (May 2008)

Songs

  • Did You Know That I Know Your Journey? (2006) (vocals, music, co-produced)
  • Everlasting for documentary Project Everlasting (2006) (vocals, music, lyrics, piano)
  • What You Won't Do for Love for Drivetime Reflections (2010) (vocals)


Acting and Hosting

Aside from the film From Justin to Kelly, Guarini's post-American Idol acting/entertainment-related projects include a 2004 role in the pre-Broadway New York Stage and Film Powerhouse Theater workshop/presentation of the musical Good Vibrations at Vassar College. His performance (which included singing, dancing, acting, and playing guitar) landed Guarini an offer to continue the role in the original Broadway production of the musical Good Vibrations, which he eventually declined.5

Guarini's Broadway debut was as Carlos in the 2010 original Broadway adaptation of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.6 Tony Award-winning co-star Patti LuPone described the newcomer as "very, very talented", adding "He’s smart as a whip, he adapts instantly and he’s unbelievably sweet".7 Guarini played the part of Will in Greenday's Tony Award-winning rock musical American Idiot performing March 1, 2011 through the show's closing night, April 24, 2011.8 From 2013-2014, he played Romeo's rival, Paris, in the non-musical Broadway modern production of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet opposite Orlando Bloom as Romeo. He joined the Broadway production of Wicked, in the role of Fiyero from February 25 to December 14, 2014.910 Some other post-American Idol stage work includes lead roles in regional reproductions of popular shows such as Rent, Chicago, Company, Paint Your Wagon, and original productions such as Ghost Brothers of Darkland County (created by Stephen King, John Mellancamp)11 and It's a Wonderful Life, A Live Radio Play with Guarini voicing George Bailey.12

Active in the Broadway/Stage community, Guarini participates in Equity staged readings such as The AWAKENING of ANGEL DeLUNA,13 hosts and/or performs for various Broadway/Stage-related benefits,1415 and other industry-related events including Broadway on the Hudson.,1516 the Times Square Tony Awards Simulcast in 2014 and 2015,17 adding executive producer duties in 2015.18 He was also an executive producer for the 2015 revival of the musical Side Show.

He's acted in independent film projects such as the drama/action film Fast Girl, The Unknown: Frankie The Squirrel, Mafioso II: The Son, and the short film Tilt-a-Whirl for the Dances With Films Film Festival. The 2013 Broadway stage production of "Romeo and Juliet" was filmed for the cinema, and shown in select theaters.

Some television appearances include a musical spoof for AMC's FilmFakers (2004), guest role in Run of the House, guest host/co-host for shows including Regis and Kelly (2003), VH1's Top 20 Countdown (2004), ManiaTV!'s U Pick 'Em and Too Short for Hollywood (2006), the guest host on the TV Guide Network (2006), BuzzFeed (2014),and the CMT reality show Gone Country, Season 3 (2009).

From 2007-2011, TV Guide Network signed Guarini as permanent co-host for Idol Wrap and Idol Tonight. On-air duties with the network expanded to include guest hosting/appearances on other TV Guide Network shows, hosting movie premiere specials, and serving as a member of TV Guide Network's awards show team with on-air coverage of awards shows such as the Grammy Awards and Emmy Awards.

In 2015, Guarini starred in a new ad campaign for Diet Dr Pepper as an alter ego named Lil' Sweet in the commercials.1920

Guarini has been a recurring commentator for such shows/networks as the Today Show, MSNBC, Fox News Channel, Style Channel, Comcast, and Larry King Live.

Theater roles

Personal life

While stepping out to support the opening of The American Idol Experience at Disney's Hollywood Studios34 in February 2009, Guarini confirmed his impending marriage to his fiancee, Reina Capodici. In an exclusive pictorial of the wedding, People reported that the couple were married on September 26, 2009.35 On April 26, 2011, his first child with Capodici, William Neko Bell Guarini was born.36 His second child, Asher, was born on February 25, 2013.37

References

  1. ^ "nydailynews.com". 
  2. ^ Moss, Corey (2003-12-02). "Where's Justin Guarini These Days? Not On RCA Records, Apparently - Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  3. ^ Lisa de Moraes (23 May 2011). "American Idol finale: After 10 years, the beat goes on". Washington Post. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  4. ^ David Clarke. "BWW CD Reviews: Broadway Records' WHERE THE SKY ENDS: THE MUSIC OF MICHAEL MOTT Awakens Dreamers". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  5. ^ "Idol Star Guarini Leaves Company of Good Vibrations". Broadway.com. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  6. ^ Justin Guarini Joins Broadway's Women on the Verge; Casting Complete playbill.com, August 19, 2010
  7. ^ "Patti LuPone Dishes About Women on the Verge, Rockers on Broadway & More". Broadway.com. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  8. ^ "Davey Havok, Justin Guarini, Van Hughes Will Be New Leads of Broadway's American Idiot". Playbill.com. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  9. ^ Amabile Angermiller, Michele (February 5, 2014). "Justin Guarini Nabs Lead in 'Wicked' on Broadway". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 21, 2014. 
  10. ^ Gioia, Michael (November 20, 2014). "Caroline Bowman and Kara Lindsay Will Be Broadway's New Wicked Witches; Robin De Jesus, Matt Shingledecker to Also Join Cast". Playbill. Retrieved November 20, 2014. 
  11. ^ BWW News Desk. "Emily Skinner, Shuler Hensley, Justin Guarini Set for GHOST BROTHERS OF DARKLAND COUNTY Workshop, 12/5". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  12. ^ a b BWW News Desk. "Photo Flash: First Look at Justin Guarini, Lauren Molina, Jill Paice and More in Bucks County's IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  13. ^ Eddie Varley. "Justin Guarini's 'AWAKENING'". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  14. ^ Editorial Staff (11 July 2014). "Wicked Star Justin Guarini and More Join NYCLU's Broadway Stands Up for Freedom". TheaterMania.com. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  15. ^ a b http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Justin-Guarini-Mary-Testa-Set-to-Host-IMAGINE-Concert-to-Benefit-Brian-Werbel-Memorial-Fund-20140811.U_uDg-Yo50s
  16. ^ BWW News Desk. "Justin Guarini & Krysta Rodriguez to Host BROADWAY ON THE HUDSON on 9/27". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  17. ^ BWW News Desk. "Justin Guarini and Kerry Butler to Host Times Square Tony Awards Simulcast". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  18. ^ "Justin Guarini and Deborah Cox Will Host Times Square Simulcast of Tony Awards". Playbill. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  19. ^ "Diet Dr Pepper – Lil’ Sweet Self Employed". youtube.com. 2015-02-19. 
  20. ^ Diet Dr Pepper – Lil’ Sweet ‘Birthday’ (2015). YouTube. 20 March 2015. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  21. ^ "USATODAY.com - Guarini to star in 'Good Vibrations'". usatoday.com. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  22. ^ Eddie Varley. "Justin Guarini's 'AWAKENING'". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  23. ^ BWW News Desk. "Full Cast Announced for Justin Guarini-Led RENT at Surflight". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  24. ^ "American Idiot's Justin Guarini Will Star in Media Theatre's Chicago". Playbill. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  25. ^ Talking with Justin Guarini, starring in ‘Ghost Brothers of Darkland County’
  26. ^ "Justin Guarini Will Star in Muny Production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat". Playbill. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  27. ^ Playbill.com Christian Camargo, Justin Guarini and Roslyn Ruff are among the latest actors to join the new interracial Broadway production of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
  28. ^ Christine Dwyer, Jenni Barber, Justin Guarini & More to Join Cast of WICKED in February Broadway World, Retrieved February 3, 2014
  29. ^ "Highlights From Paint Your Wagon With Keith Carradine, Alexandra Socha and Justin Guarini". Playbill. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  30. ^ Editorial Staff (18 March 2015). "First Look at Keith Carradine, Alexandra Socha, and Justin Guarini in Paint Your Wagon". TheaterMania.com. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  31. ^ "Photo Call: First Look at Justin Guarini in Bucks County Playhouse Production of Company". Playbill. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  32. ^ BWW News Desk. "Justin Guarini, Rose Hemingway & More Will Star in MOONSHINE: THAT HEE HAW MUSICAL at Dallas Theater Center". BroadwayWorld.com. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  33. ^ Andy Lefkowitz (18 June 2015). "Justin Guarini Leads Cast of Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical". TheaterMania.com. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  34. ^ "‘American Idol’ Alumni Justin Guarini Planning Summer Wedding | Access Hollywood - Celebrity News, Photos & Videos". Access Hollywood. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  35. ^ "American Idol's Justin Guarini Marches Down the Aisle". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 
  36. ^ "Justin Guarini Welcomes Son William Neko – Moms & Babies – Moms & Babies - People.com". Celebritybabies.people.com. 2011-06-24. Retrieved 2012-03-08. 
  37. ^ "Justin Guarini Welcomes Son Asher – Moms & Babies – Celebrity Babies and Kids - Moms & Babies - People.com". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved 2 September 2015. 

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